Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones

Rugando residents in Kimihurura queue to cast their votes at a past election. (File)

‘African politics would be very entertaining, if there were no fools getting routinely killed on behalf of unsuspecting opportunists’ – Jean Paul Kimonyo, Author of ‘Rwanda Demain’.

We Rwandans rarely criticise regional politics, much less regional leaders because we know: 1. We aren’t perfect; 2. It isn’t our place and 3. We do not have the full picture.

So I find it strange for regional colleagues to feel somehow entitled to criticise Rwandan politics and leaders, without consulting us.

Four million Rwandans petitioned parliament to keep their leadership in place. Rwandans keep holding routine elections in calm and peace without bothering anyone.

On the other hand, we are hosts to political refugees from each of our - to use Ugandans’ favorite term – ‘a neighbouring country’, and our imported goods are frequently stuck on ‘neighbouring ports’.

As a consequence of being landlocked, in every election year around us, we have to have a contingency plan ready, to respond to the chronical humanitarian crisis that is our neighbourhood politics.

So it is not that we have nothing to say. It is easier to criticize the Trumps or Fillons, light years away, yet our regional politics is as enticing as it is entertaining; it is like TV Soap-opera all around us.

But we walk on eggshells, and every time we are invited to comment on African politics, we are full of praise and always wish them well.

Don’t get me wrong, constructive criticism among brethren is healthy, and to validate my senior Mwene Gahaya’s suggestion: ‘Rwanda can stand any balanced, informed criticism, especially from the region’.

What breaks my heart though, is the naiveté with which every self-appointed African ‘political analyst’ - like late Madiba used to call them - parrots what they are fed by western media, without considering our opinion. No sooner have Western experts on Rwanda toned down did the region pick up the savior mentality, like oxymoron western proxies…

Let me address the elephant in the room: Some Kenyans (of all people) are comparing Ugandan politician Bobi Wine to Rwanda’s Diane Rwigara and Victoire Ingabire and demanding for their release. There is inherent bad faith in that correlation:

1. Bobi Wine has been charged of no crime;

2. He is an elected Member of Parliament;

3. He is a famous musician in Uganda and in the region;

4. Thousands of Ugandans took to the streets to support Bobi Wine. They accepted to be beaten up and – in the case of his driver – shot by the police. So it is safe to say ‘some’ Ugandans support Bobby Wine.

Diane Rwigara or Ingabire on the other hand:

1.1. Victoire Ingabire has been convicted of crimes, based on evidence collected – mind you – by the Dutch Police. That’s right, the Police in the Netherlands did a search at her residence there and uncovered documents linking her to a terrorist groups in DRC. Rwandan prosecution had requested for any suspicious documents; the Dutch sent bundles;

 1.2. Diane Rwigara is undergoing trial. Her case has not been closed. In other words we do not know if she is innocent or guilty.

2. Victoire Ingabire and Diane Rwigara have not been elected to hold any office in Rwanda;

 3.1. Diane Rwagara has spent most of her life in school overseas and when in Rwanda, she lived at her parents’ house. The media likes to present her at times as a business woman, at times as a women’s rights activist. That’s a travesty! The young lady has never worked for an NGO, run a business, a foundation, written or declared anything; nothing! Her CV is blank and her business card reads: Daughter of a rich man.

 3.2. Victoire Ingabire never lived in Rwanda since the end of the genocide. She couldn’t, because her husband, mother, father and associates are all convicted, in absencia, of crimes of genocide and are exiled in Europe.

 4. The two ladies were totally unknown to the Rwandan public. They were propped-up overnight by western Media, NGOs and Embassies in the electoral campaign month. As a result no single Rwandan, save for their legal teams raised a finger to defend them.

-In fact, in both cases, after new evidence has come to light, the Belgian and Netherlands embassies, where they have citizenship respectively, have distanced themselves from their cases.

So I ask myself, in Rwanda we have several other convicts with potential; a guy named John, a guy named Joe and a lady named Jane, etc. Why are they not famous? Why is there no #hashtag for them on twitter or a headline for them in the media?

Then it hit me; the culprit here is the subversive Rwandan political model based on ‘Dialogue and Consensus’! The one behind the peaceful elections, the safe and orderly streets and political nonevents; that’s who’s to blame! A boring model which deters populism, cronyism and extremism. 

Our model is subversive in the sense that it does not fit the democratic template that was imposed on ethnically and regionally divided Africans to exacerbate their divisions and maintain a permanent state of tension among them.

We share the same ills as all Africans. But the Genocide against the Tutsi acted as a wake-up call. We have since stopped playing with human life. We have vowed never to let sensationalists of all kinds excite us. We do not consume western excitants anymore. We are calm.

We see bullshit coming from miles away and we have deterrents and remedies, which we are quick to activate. The law on hate speech and divisionism for instance; that’s a deterrent.

That said, I am the first to admit that our politics is terribly boring and reporting on it is like squeezing water from a stone. And that’s how we like it! 

All the thrill we need, we get from watching, at times with amusement, often with horror, our brethren repeating the same experience over and over again, and expecting a different result – worse yet, criticising us for not joining in on the insanity…


The views expressed in this article are of the author.